Philadelphia Plans $43M Schuylkill Trail Extension with Bridge, Scenic Overlook

Tue June 23, 2020 - Northeast Edition
Philadelphia Inquirer


The proposal also would allow for an uninterrupted trail from Valley Forge to Bartram's Garden via the Schuylkill River Trail. (hiddencityphila.org photo)
The proposal also would allow for an uninterrupted trail from Valley Forge to Bartram's Garden via the Schuylkill River Trail. (hiddencityphila.org photo)

The City of Philadelphia has applied for a federal permit to build an extension to the Schuylkill River Trail with a bridge along the eastern bank of the waterway that would allow runners, walkers and cyclists to go over railroad tracks that have long blocked access to the river.

The proposal also would allow for an uninterrupted trail from Valley Forge to Bartram's Garden via the Schuylkill River Trail.

The $43 million project, adding more than a half-mile of trail, is to be paid for through a mix of federal, state, city and private funding.

The trail would start at Christian Street and run south into Gray's Ferry Crescent Trail Park before ending at South 34th Street. It would include a pedestrian bridge with two overlooks like the existing Schuylkill Boardwalk at South Street. But this new trail would be much higher to clear an industrial area that includes rail operations.

The proposed segment adds 2,730 ft. of recreational trail along the Schuylkill. The new pathway is divided into five sections and will extend over the river for 775 ft. with a cable bridge. Designs call for the span to be about 25 ft. wide, with two overlooks roughly 50 ft. wide, and would be supported by pylons and piers placed in the river.

In addition, the trail designers want a 700-ft. long section that would require construction of a bridge to pass over CSX railroad tracks, starting at Stanley Street.

When complete, the new portion of the trail would give users a westward view across the river toward the University of Pennsylvania baseball field.

"The project has been in the works for years and we're just finishing up the design," said Joseph Syrnick, president of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, a nonprofit managing the project for the city.

He said it's the last gap in the trail from Montgomery County to Bartram's Garden.

"Because of that it's very critical," he added.

Syrnick described the segment as the most complex part of the trail along the riverbanks. He hopes the project goes to bid in the fall, with possible completion by Summer 2023.

Eventually, the Schuylkill River Trail will be extended to the Delaware River, but there are no firm plans yet for when that work will be completed.